We can finally sit in our gardens again for a leisurely barbecue with friends, soaking up those rays and vitamin D while tucking in to some great grub. Everybody has their own favourite dishes and ways of executing their own barbecues but it got us to thinking – what is the best way to do it? So we contacted some of the region’s most experienced chefs who regularly work with steaks, sides and sauces to find out how they do it.
Group executive chef Roy Soundranayagam from The Meat Co – Middle East, South Africa and London ‘Buy the best quality meat you can afford, good BBQ meats are lamb cutlets, or lamb grillers, beef rib eye, sirloin and fillet.
‘Bring meat up to room temperature before putting on the barbecue. If you take it out of the fridge 20 minutes beforehand, it should be perfect.
‘Don't have the barbecue too hot, as it will burn the outside too quickly and the inside will be underdone.
‘Season the steak before cooking with a little olive oil and salt on both sides.
‘Do not put oil onto the barbecue, as it will burn and give a burnt flavour to anything you cook on it.
‘Cook the steaks on the barbecue for four minutes on each side, turning only once. Before you eat, let it rest off the barbecue covered with foil for four minutes.’
Executive sous chef David Bell of the InterContinental Regency Bahrain (home of Legendz Steakhouse and Elements Friday BBQ brunch) ‘Do not buy cheap cuts. These are for stewing. My favourite cut of meat is rib eye. You can use striploin, rump or tenderloin, but cut it thick and try and buy good quality with lots of fat marbling throughout the meat.
‘Do not poke your steak or turn it every 30 seconds. Place the meat on the grill and leave it alone. Cook on one side for around five minutes (you can rotate it if you want a nice criss-cross), then turn over and repeat. To check doneness, gently feel with your fingers – it should feel slightly springy – or use a digital thermometer (they’re awesome). It should be about 57˚C for medium rare.
‘Do not rush. Squeezing and squashing the steak to cook faster only pushes out all the juices and turns the steak tough and chewy. But if you like eating leather, go for it.
‘Do not stick a knife in to see if it’s done. This is a crime against food.
‘Do not take it off the heat and serve it right away. Pull it off the fire, and let that residual heat carry over while the meat rests for about five to eight minutes. Your steak will relax and become tenderer.’
Chef de Cuisine Chef Yann Bernard Lejard from Plums steakhouse in The Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Hotel & Spa ‘Always remove the ingredients from the fridge ten minutes before they pass onto the grill. Also always try to marinate your meat, fish or vegetables before you grill them. Even only five minutes will add more flavours to your ingredients.
‘For a good marinade you can use olive oil, crushed garlic, spices, fresh herbs like rosemary, sea salt and crushed black pepper. Alternatively, you can find a ready-made spicy mix in the supermarket. When you grill on the barbecue, try not to allow flames. Sear very well both sides of your meat and, most importantly, let your meat rest after cooking for a few minutes before you serve.
‘The ingredients cooked will be the main focus but do not forget the sauce or salad on the side. You can find great American barbeque sauce or a French sauce like Bearnaise, Tartare, Bourguignonne. They will really add value to the dish. For the garnish, wrap a potato with aluminium foil, then put in the charcoal for 30 minutes. Open it, put a slice of fresh butter and cut some fresh chive on the top and sprinkle some sea salt from Guerande. Simple yet delicious.
‘Finally, for a nice salad, slice a few tomatoes, cut a few slices of watermelon, and grill them. Mix the tomatoes and watermelon, chop some coriander leaves on top, and add a few coriander seeds. Then season with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a few small cubes of blue Stilton cheese, pepper and sea salt.’
Chef Gabriel Stival from Argentinean grill Asado at The Palace Downtown Dubai ‘The key to a solid barbecue is to make sure you maintain an adequate amount of fanning and air circulation during the process. Use charcoal and fire wood, build a mountain of charcoal using at least two kilos of charcoal. You need to warm up gradually and have enough air in between the charcoals. Have two to three sheets of paper (newspapers or cartons) ready and slide them in between your charcoal to help air circulation, which will assure you get a steady warm grill and no fire as you do not want to have extra heat and always air filtering within the barbecue. Have extra amounts of charcoal next to your grill so you can use extra where needed to make more heat and maintain for the duration of the cooking.’
Executive Chef Christian Jean from the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel (home of Brazilian churrascaria Ipanema and the New York Steakhouse) ‘Marinades and flavour mixes are composed of three keys elements: acids, oils, and flavouring. These elements perform three distinct functions to tenderise, moisten and flavour. Acids tenderise and add flavour. Citrus juice, vinegars and yoghurt are all acid ingredients that will boost the intensity of any marinade.
‘Oils provide moisture. Tender food such as fish and chicken require the added moisture and protection provided by oil to combat the fierce heat of the fire. On the other hand, beef and lamb, when marinated in acid mixes, require oil to replace the moisture drawn out of the meat by the acid. Try using olive oil or a nutty sesame oil for additional flavours.
‘Sweet flavourings take the sharp taste out of an acid marinade, so adding a bit of sugar to a flavour mix enhances the grilling process which will give a crispy caramelised crust on food over the grill. There are different sweet flavourings which can be added for example fragrant honey, dark brown sugar or tangy pomegranate molasses which can be easily found on the market.’